The Road to Becoming a World Surfing Reserve

Playa Hermosa lays out its vision for the protection of its surf ecosystem

Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica was recently announced as the next World Surfing Reserve on September 23, a deserving addition to the growing network of recognized surf breaks. But the announcement of the prestigious title is only the beginning as each Reserve pursues projects that diminish threats and enhance the surf ecosystem.

More Than Just a Title and Award

A World Surfing Reserve is more than just a designation. It represents a process by which the local community comes together to provide lasting protection for the waves. 

Each WSR, distinctive in its characteristics but also the various threats it faces, carries out a unique vision for the protection, stewardship and conservation of their coastline. 

Once a place has been chosen as a WSR, the Local Stewardship Council begins an intensive planning process to identify the key goals, objectives, and actions that will be taken to protect their World Surfing Reserve.

The Local Stewardship Council

The Local Stewardship Council (LSC) and the community of Playa Hermosa have been preparing their conservation vision for the beloved region for years. 

A community of surfers, conservationists, scientists, NGO’s, business leaders and others have banded together over the years to address the threats of climate change, coastal development, water quality, plastic pollution and others. The World Surfing Reserve designation gives the community the international recognition and network to consolidate this work and begin to develop solutions.

The LSC includes representatives from the local government in Garabito, the nonprofit Costas Verdes, local surfers and businesses, as well as the Punta Mala National Wildlife Refuge among other community members.

These organizations and the community have already completed projects that have enhanced the biological and cultural value of the surf ecosystem. Costas Verdes has planted thousands of native trees along the coast of Playa Hermosa to restore the indigenous coastal habitat, and the Punta Mala National Wildlife Refuge has protected the coastal and marine habitat for critically important species such as the Leatherback sea turtle and the Scarlet Macaw. 

Roadmap to Conservation

Some of the aspects that set Playa Hermosa apart from competing WSR applicants were the clearly articulated goals and anticipated outcomes they envisioned could be achieved with the designation. 

Save The Waves and the Local Stewardship Council have launched the Conceptual Model planning process which is the first step an LSC takes towards the completion of their Stewardship Plan, the guiding document for the WSR and all of its goals and activities. 

In this preliminary document, the community of Playa Hermosa has identified goals that will help promote sustainable tourism, improve environmental quality, and support a functional and sustainable urban plan to ensure Playa Hermosa retains its pristine coastline. These goals are articulated in order to identify specific actions that can counter the current and future threats to the waves and the coast.

We call ourselves Save The Waves Coalition for a reason. Everything we do is in partnership with and behind the leadership of local communities seeking to protect their surf ecosystems.

Playa Hermosa will continue to cultivate their plan of action for protecting their waves and join the prestigious network of World Surfing Reserves and ultimately, continue to shape our global Coalition.

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Learn more about our World Surfing Reserve program here

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